MLB, Dodgers Foundation investing in youth coaching

July 18th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- “Partnership.”






Those were the answers given in the quickfire round of the “Coach Mentorship, Recruitment, and Training in Low-Income Communities” panel, which took place on Sunday afternoon at the PLAY BALL Park All-Star Clubhouse, located in the Los Angeles Convention Center during All-Star Week 2022.

The question: What are you most looking forward to about a $1.3 million project that brings together MLB, the Dodgers, the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, Nike and several L.A.-area youth sports organizations, all with the goal of enhancing the quality of sports-based youth development programming while also growing accessibility to such programs?

Nichol Whiteman, president of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, and April Brown, MLB’s VP of social responsible, introduced the panel, which was moderated by Renata Simril, CEO of the LA84 Foundation.

Panel participants were Andrés De La Peza, chief program officer, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation; Dr. Ahada McCummings, senior national director, external affairs & organizational learning, Up2Us Sports (coach mentor partner); Marti Reed, Positive Coaching Alliance (training and recruitment partner); Aaron Trolia, co-founder of the Dodgers Training Academy and EL1 sports (training partner); and Victor Johnson, the Los Angeles director of the Center for Justice and Healing Through Sport (curriculum and training partner).

“Data consistently shows that youth drop out of sports starting at around age 12,” said Simril. “And this has dire implications. Kids’ mental and physical health, life skills development, and our social and community strength, the fabric of what keeps us connected, is impacted. And that's not to mention developing future fans.”

One of the main things that keeps children interested in playing sports is a lack of qualified coaches. This joint effort seeks to address that issue through four primary goals. The first: to expand paid coach mentor positions from 30 to 75 by 2025. The second: to recruit 1,500 coaches by 2024. The third: to train 1,500 coaches in trauma-sensitive sports-based youth development practices by 2024. And the fourth: to develop a first-of-its-kind coach playbook.

With more than two-thirds of youth experiencing a traumatic event by age 16 -- a number that is even higher in low-income areas -- there is a particular need for coaches who understand how to work from a trauma-informed perspective.

“When we use sport as a way to support young people and their development, we often think of physical health, or communication, discipline, those social-emotional life skills that we want to translate into the rest of our lives, and also in other parts of our lives,” said Johnson. “But we often don't think about the way that sport can help young people heal, and overcome the impacts of adversity. And sport can do that better than a lot of other things.”

Reed, whose organization is focused on fostering more positive youth sports culture, spoke of a concept called “filling the emotional tank.”

“When that tank is full, it's going to affect an athlete's behavior, as well as their performance,” said Reed. “When an athlete has a full tank, they tend to be more coachable or optimistic. They stick to the game longer, they have more fun, they try harder, regardless of the results or if they're going to fail.”

And a good way to ensure that a coach is able to relate to their kids in a meaningful manner? Developing more youth coaches who come from the same communities as their kids.

“That is extremely important because our coaches know exactly what's going on with their youth,” said McCummings. “They lived it, and they know how to guide and support them through it.”

Those looking to get involved can visit for more information.